Climate Change and the Resilience of Coral Reefs

Tim R. McClanahan and Joshua E. Cinner

in Adapting to a Changing Environment

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199754489
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918843 | DOI:
Climate Change and the Resilience of Coral Reefs

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This chapter is a short introduction to the concepts of adaptation to environmental stress, followed by a review of climate change effect son coral reefs, and the environmental factors that cause coral bleaching. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how to prioritize management based on the exposure of reefs to climate change. Climate change is reducing the dominance of calcifying coral species that provide the important reef architecture needed to support fish and fisheries and other ecosystem services, including shoreline protection. Reefs are expected to change towards dominance by either slower growing and stress resistant corals, moderately fast growing calcifying algae, or fast-growing non-calcifying algae, or other groups such as various soft corals, depending on the level of other stress factor. Climate change disturbances are variable in space and time and associated with the spatial heterogeneity suggests that the impacts of climate change will not be simultaneous and uniform and this variability will provide time to implement management and human adaptations that can reduce detrimental consequences for people.

Keywords: coral physiology; disturbances; management; recovery; species diversity; synergistic stress

Chapter.  7355 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biodiversity and Conservation Biology

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